Sunderland vs Leicester: Three Foxes who must start

Stoke City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship
Stoke City v Leicester City - Sky Bet Championship / Malcolm Couzens/GettyImages

For the first time this season, Leicester City has faced defeat in three consecutive matches. The Foxes have struggled with their finishing and displayed a lack of inspiration in the final third. Compounding matters, Ricardo Pereira and Dennis Praet will be sidelined due to injuries for a few weeks. The midfield, already thinly stretched, now faces further challenges with these key absences.

With Leicester's commanding lead at the top of the EFL Championship reduced to three points, securing a victory against Sunderland is imperative. The Foxes need to regain their confidence and more importantly, maintain their hard-earned position in the league.

Which three players should start to help Leicester secure a much-needed win at Sunderland? Let's find out below.

Conor Coady

Coady has been sparingly used in the starting XI since joining from Wolverhampton Wanderers last summer. Initially brought in to be the mainstay center-back, Jannik Vestergaard's resurgence and importance to Maresca-ball have kept the former England International to the bench.

Despite his limited playing time, Coady has remained a model professional, showcasing his leadership skills in the squad. With Leicester struggling and looking passive at times, it's time for Maresca to tap into Coady's experience and defensive acumen from the start.

While Coady's passing ability might not match Vestergaard, it's still a considerable asset. If Coady can put in good performances, Maresca might opt to pair him with Vestergaard, allowing both to contribute effectively to the team's defensive solidity.

Callum Doyle

James Justin, although a talented and defensively solid player, has recently performed below his usual standard. He appears out of sync with Mavididi, and a defensive lapse against Queens Park Rangers resulted in the opposition capitalizing with a goal.

After recovering from his injury, Doyle has only sporadically featured in the team, despite his vital contributions before being sidelined. Known for his adept passing from the back, Doyle could inject some much-needed inspiration into the team's build-up play.

While Doyle's defensive capabilities have been questioned, Sunderland's depleted attack offers him an opportunity to shake off any rustiness and stake his claim in the first team. With Jack Clarke and Patrick Roberts absent for Sunderland, Doyle may not face significant defensive challenges in this match.

With Pereira sidelined, there are decisions to be made on the optimal player to be deployed in the hybrid right back role. Hamza Choudhury, usually Pereira's understudy, may not be the best option due to fatigue and a lackluster performance against QPR. Therefore, Justin's role as the right-back remains uncertain, particularly whether Maresca will deploy him in the traditional role or opt for the hybrid role he's less familiar with.

Jamie Vardy

There's little need to justify Vardy's inclusion in the team. As Leicester's GOAT, Vardy brings invaluable leadership and experience to the side, in addition to his unmatched finishing ability.

He still has the pace and energy to run in behind the defense while being competent in his hold up play, excelling at his quick one touch layoffs. 

Maresca might consider fielding Kelechi Iheanacho instead of Yunus Akgun in the number 10 role. Iheanacho's superior hold-up play and understanding of Vardy's playing style could complement the team's attacking dynamics effectively.